GFW Map: Oil Palm-Driven Forest Clearing in Leuser Ecosystem Detected by 2013 Data

Oil Palm-Driven Forest Clearing in Leuser Ecosystem Detected by 2013 Data

The Leuser Ecosystem on the Indonesian island of Sumatra is a hotspot for endangered biodiversity, described by Mongabay as “the only place on Earth where rhinos, orangutans, tigers and elephants live in the same habitat.” A broad area of the Leuser Ecosystem is designated a “National Strategic Area” for Indonesia, and is mapped as a “conservation area” by  the World Database on Protected Areas.

But the protection afforded to this area is ambiguous—in several areas the Indonesian government has granted licenses for oil palm, timber, and wood fiber development that overlap with the mapped protected area. The area highlighted in the map falls both within the Leuser Ecosystem and is designated as a palm oil concession for PT. Mestika Prima Lestari Indah according to Indonesian government data.

This spot stands out when we look at the new 2013 tree cover loss data released last week. The GFW analysis tool indicates that 1,187 hectares of tree cover (an area the size of 1,600 soccer pitches) were cleared 2012 and 2013 alone, much in degraded primary forests. Zooming in on the satellite basemap shows the distinctive brown contours and green dots of an area cleared for oil palm planting.

Explore the area on GFW here.

 

 

Tree Cover Loss Spikes in Russia and Canada, Remains High Globally

By Nigel Sizer, Matt Hansen, Peter Potapov, David Thau, Rachael Petersen, and James Anderson

Header photo from Sara Lindstrom, Flickr.

This article originally appeared on Insights.

New, high-resolution satellite-based maps released today by the University of Maryland and Google on Global Forest Watch, a partnership of over 60 organizations convened by the World Resources Institute, reveal a significant recent surge in tree cover loss largely in Russia and Canada during 2013. There is also some good news, with a slowing of tree cover loss in Indonesia, though rates of loss continue a troubling rise across the tropics as a whole. These 2013 data are the first annual update to the influential “High-Resolution Global Maps of 21st-Century Forest Cover Change” published in Science, and are the latest globally consistent estimates of tree cover loss available.

So what do the data say? Much analysis remains to be done, but here are five immediate highlights:

Tree Cover Loss Remains High Globally, Surges in Russia and Canada

Global tree cover loss in 2013 continued to be high at over 18 million hectares (69,500 square miles)—about twice the size of Portugal—slightly lower than 2012, but a troubling 5.2 percent increase over the 2000-2012 average. In 2011-2013, Russia and Canada topped the list (mostly due to forest fires), jointly accounting for 34 percent of total loss.

Tree cover loss is a measure of the total loss of all trees within a specific area regardless of the cause. It includes human-driven deforestation, forest fires both natural and manmade, clearing trees for agriculture, logging, plantation harvesting, and tree mortality due to disease and other natural causes. Tree cover gain also happened during 2013, but is not included in the 2013 update or this analysis as it is more difficult to monitor than loss. Much of the tree cover loss is only temporary, as forests regenerate after disturbances such as fire, though in the boreal region this is a very slow process.

Global bar chartClick to enlarge

To see a complete ranking of countries by tree cover loss, visit the GFW country rankings and country profiles.

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Global Forest Watch News Roundup: Week of January 12

GFW News Roundup: Forest stories from around the world that demonstrate the power of spatial analysis and open data in improving management of forest landscapes

To learn more about GFW, a dynamic online forest monitoring and alert system, click here, or follow us on twitter at @globalforests.

Top Reads of the Week

Indonesia rolls back protection of carbon-rich peatlands. An Indonesian law that protects peatlands will be revised to allow for business-as-usual practices on the carbon-rich soils, according to the Environment and Forestry Ministry. Indonesian Law 71/2014, passed in October of 2014, requires a minimum water level in peatlands of 40 cm. Oil palm and timber industry groups criticized the law and claimed it would harm industry, while environmental groups claimed that the law did not go far enough in protecting peat soils. Companies will be allowed to continue business-as-usual operations on peat with water depth less than 40 cm under the revised rule. Read more about how drained peat soils contribute to fires and climate change at Eco-Business. (via Mongabay and the Jakarta Post)

Increases in food production can go hand-in-hand with decreases in deforestation. A new study found that food production increased while deforestation decreased in Matto Grosso, Brazil between 2001 and 2010, potentially demonstrating the value of policies that push agriculture into already-degraded land. Between 2001 and 2006, soy production accounted for about 10% of deforestation in the province. Yet between 2006 and 2010 only 2% of deforestation was attributed to expanded soy production, with 91% of the production increases occurring on degraded cattle pasture. (via Mongabay)

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New High-Resolution Images of Indonesian Forest and Land Fires

By James Anderson and Asa Strong

Global Forest Watch and Digital Globe recently partnered to bring high-resolution satellite images to bear on the issue of forest and land fires in Indonesia. The fires, often set to clear land for agriculture or used as a tool in conflict over land, can cause serious damage to forests and peat soils, as well as releasing clouds of toxic haze. The haze remains a particularly acute environmental and public heath crisis.

We have continued to acquire new images, including new images from the past few weeks. See two highlights below, complete with lat/ long coordinates and links to download the images on Flickr, or explore them with other forest and land data on GFW Fires.

Fire near wood fiber plantation | Sumatra, Indonesia | Nov 5, 2014

Land fire in Sumatra, Indonesia, made available through a partnership between Global Forest Watch Fires and Digital Globe. The dark patches on the left are a large pulpwood plantation (concession boundaries available on GFW fires).

Acquisition Date: November 5, 2014
Satellite: Digital Globe’s WorldView 2
Lat/ Long: 105.764057 / -2.848973 (Decimal Degrees)

Explore this image and additional data on Global Forest Watch Fires

Download the high-resolution image via Flickr

 

Fire in fields | Sumatra, Indonesia | July 24, 2014

Agricultural fire in Sumatra, Indonesia, made available through a partnership between Global Forest Watch Fires and Digital Globe.

 

Acquisition Date: July 24,2014
Satellite: Digital Globe’s WorldView 2
Lat/ Long: 100.371870 / 2.103892 (Decimal Degrees)

Explore this image and additional data on Global Forest Watch Fires

Download the high-resolution image via Flickr

Feel free to share and re-post the images (with credit to Global Forest Watch and Digital Globe).

Global Forest Watch News Roundup: Week of November 10

GFW News Roundup: Forest stories from around the world that demonstrate the power of spatial analysis and open data in improving management of forest landscapes

To learn more about GFW, a dynamic online forest monitoring and alert system, click here, or follow us on twitter at @globalforests.

Top Reads of the Week

Land use planning underpins deforestation in Peru. Peru’s forests are increasingly under threat from logging and mining in the face of weak governance and competing land use priorities, according to researchers at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). Slow decentralization has limited the role of local and regional governments in land use planning, and overlapping ministerial jurisdictions at the national level are undermining sustainable management. Meanwhile, a recent economic stimulus package has relaxed key environmental regulations while promoting ‘fast-track licensing’ for land concessions. (Trust.org via CIFOR)

Development threatens Brazil’s protected areas. A proposal under debate in the Brazilian Congress is calling for ten percent of the country’s protected areas to be developed for mining and hydroelectric dams. The vast potential environmental damage of this development (affecting an area the size of Switzerland) is not being fully considered, argues a new paper in Science. These infrastructure projects are “a recipe for the emergence of new deforestation frontiers”, according to one of the coauthors. (Via Mongabay)

Australia bids to strip Tasmania forest of World Heritage protection. A UNESCO committee rejected the Australian government’s bid to strip 74,000 ha of carbon-dense forest in Tasmania of its World Heritage status after only 9 minutes of debate, but the effort to delist the area was called “a disappointment” by the head of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. This bid follows other efforts to roll back the conservation of Tasmania’s forests. On September 2, Tasmania’s government reversed a forest protection deal that took three years to negotiate, and removed the protected status of 400,000 hectares of native forest, calling for a “renaissance of forestry in Tasmania.” (via The Guardian)
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